A white plume of incense rising from the new altar stood out in bold relief April 10 before the sanctuary’s refurbished wooden retablo and dispersed dramatically under the cloudscape-painted dome, “supported” by painted images of the four Gospel evangelists at St. Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood.
Eight months of restoration work on the Spanish Baroque church culminated in the concelebrated Mass of Dedication for the newly renovated building. Cardinal Roger Mahony (who, as a seminarian, was at the church’s 1959 blessing) presided, with Auxiliary Bishops Edward Clark, Thomas Curry, Alex Salazar, and Gerald Wilkerson concelebrating.
A handful of parishioners also present at St. Charles’ 1959 blessing were among the large, reverent congregation assembled in the newly refinished pews for the two-and-a-half hour Mass. The ancient Rite of Dedication included depositing of the relics beneath the altar, anointings of the altar and church walls with sacred chrism, incensation of the church and formal lighting of new wall lamps and candles.
In his homily, the cardinal said the transformation of St. Charles was a metaphor for spiritual transformation, like the liturgy’s Gospel passage (from Luke 19:1-10) about Zacchaeus, the tax collector who was inspired by meeting Jesus to become an almsgiver.
“As we celebrate today the beautiful liturgy of dedication, we become very much aware that it is God’s transformational grace which is at work in us and which is so important,” said Cardinal Mahony.
“We need to open our lives to allow that transformation to sweep over us, to be poured forth over us through the Holy Spirit so that when we leave and go out, we will become a great sign of God’s presence in this community and people will marvel not at the beauty of St. Charles Church but at the inner beauty of the parishioners of St. Charles parish.”
Following Communion, the cardinal carried the Eucharist in a procession down the center and right side aisles of the church as part of the inauguration of the tabernacle and Blessed Sacrament Chapel on the west side of the church. Shortly thereafter, members of the Latin-American Council honored the Blessed Mother by processing down the middle and up the left side aisle to place flowers at the new shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Other new statues in the church include a “Pieta,” a bronze statue of St. Charles Borromeo, and a shrine on the east side of the church with statues of St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Anthony of Padua.
In his remarks following the liturgy, Msgr. Robert Gallagher, pastor, expressed his gratitude for the generosity of all those who supported the restoration and beautification work on St. Charles.
“There are many in this church today who have worked so tirelessly in accomplishing this great gift that has been given to the people of this parish,” said Msgr. Gallagher. Those called up for special recognition included Thomas Von Der Ahe, Sr., and his son, Thomas Von Der Ahe, Jr., who served as project managers; Dan White, architect; John Van Dyke, construction; Jeff Van Dyke, on-site construction coordinator; John and Peter McHugh, electrical; Evan Wilson, artist; Thomas Simms, consultant; and Roger Schreck, HVAC.
“I congratulate Msgr. Gallagher and each of you for the vision, generosity and sacrifice that has made this day possible,” wrote San Fernando Auxiliary Bishop Gerald Wilkerson in the commemorative booklet. “These qualities have always been the hallmark of St. Charles’ parishioners and my prayer is that your facilities for workshop, education and service will unite you as one family and as disciples of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”